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Old 12-15-2004   #1
Luca Catania
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The importance of Landing pages - 20 Guidelines

Hi Guys,

More and more often we talk about search engines positioning, on the strategic optimization of the pages and about lawful and unlawful techniques to get hold of the top positions. The growing spread of this knowledge could represent a positive aspect but for the fact that who succeeds thinks he has reached his winning post.

I think the positioning on the search engines only represents the first step.

In this post I would like to point out the importance of "landing pages", that I consider as those pages where users get to after having clicked on a link from a search engine, a promotional e-mail that you have sent, an advertising campaign or from any other means you are using in order to promote a product or a service.

It is easy to guess that these pages have an essential role in the attainment of your goals (selling of an on-line service, of a product, registration to a newsletter, etc.). The user finds himself at an important crossroad: "register or not register?" or "buy or not buy?"
If you aren't able to direct, comfort, stimulate or motivate him adequately, it is unlikely that his choice will be positive.

20 guidelines to create successful landing pages:

(1) The more you inform, the more you sell
In order to push someone to make an action or a purchase it is essential to include as much information as possible; the user will have to find answers to his questions, see his doubts solved and feel the need to do something straightaway!
Your job will be to tell and show him everything he would expect to find in the best product in the world; you will have to give him enough information to persuade him, make him feel ready, firm and comforted to make the purchase.
Plan meaty pages provided they are interesting and motivating.
(2) The product is the only protagonist
Don't waste a single pixel of your page talking about anything that isn't about the product you intend to promote. Every sentence, image, multimedia content that isn't of use to sing its praises is only a waste of time for you and your users.
The product must be the only protagonist of your page.
(3) Show your product
The web is not a shop; users can't touch what they are seeing. Do all you can to show them just how beautiful and irresistible your product is using all the means at your disposal (2d/3d images, photographs, videos, interactive films, audio, music etc.).

If what you are promoting doesn't physically exist, carry out an ad hoc graphics that can make it as real as possible (e.g. for a software only available in download, create a winning 3d box that represents it).
(4) Show your product
Appearance is very important but the user needs to see the product in action!

Always remember to make a demonstration of the potentialities and functionalities of what you are promoting and you will be able to sell more than with any other technique. A demonstration attracts the attention and stimulates the user’s need.
(5) Use graphics to support the promotional messages
Users understand and remember messages better if they are repeated several times and provided with various techniques. Make sure that they appear both in textual and in graphic form the same number of times. A good idea is also to provide messages in audio format.

(6) Include a winning offer
It is not essential to include an offer but remember that it can turn a normal commercial proposal into an occasion that simply cannot be missed.
In most cases offers, especially “time offers”, increase the purchases and generate the wish and the hurry to buy.
Offers work well because they induce the user to think that if he doesn't buy, he'd miss an unrepeatable occasion (the cost of the non-purchase)!
The better the offer the larger the reply.
(7) The power of the "perceived value"
The effectiveness of your offer depends on the perception that the user has of it, more than the value itself. This is the reason why many offers include products free of charge that increase its perceived value.
(8) Say it again, Gasparuccio
After having finished reading this article try and write on a piece of paper all the rules you remember. You'll understand why repeating messages is so important. Draw attention to messages that are meaningful if you want users to remember (check guideline 5)
(9) Be persuasive
I know, it's not fair, but you will seldom find someone holding his credit card waiting to purchase or to register to a newsletter. If you want users to do something persuade them into doing it!
You will have to convince them that what they are seeing is really what you are describing.
You have to persuade them that their lives will be more exciting, richer and simpler if they buy your product and the exact opposite if they don't.
(10) The importance of "details"
You'd be surprised by the number of hesitations and wrong ideas that arise in the user’s mind when he looks at a commercial offer. Every one of these ideas is strong enough to distract him from the decision to act.
Make a list of all possible reasons that a user may have not to make a purchase and try and answer as many things as possible. Concentrate on the details and on all that at first sight may have been taken for granted!
On internet there’s no tomorrow; if users want to buy, they must do it straightaway!
(11) Give him good reasons to believe you
If what you're offering is better than anything else a user can find elsewhere, you have to tell him why. What science is hidden behind your product? What technological innovation or recent discovery does it use? Always remember to give good reasons to make what you are saying more credible.

(12) Reinforce your credibility
Creating a good credibility is a very complex job but just as important. Take advantage of as many testimonials as you can, known graphic icons (e.g. logo visa, w3c, etc.), mentions from third parties or everything you own that can help you reach an aim (e.g. press release, reviews etc.)
Take into account the fact that the coherence between what you say about your product and what it really is will help you improve your credibility towards the user.
(13) Testimonials work
It is comforting for users to hear about what other people say about your product, especially if they underline how their life has improved since they’ve bought it (e.g. the “before and after” effect).
Use various techniques to give proof: simple textual comments written by who has tried the product, audio files with the real users' voices, films and what more can pop into your mind.
In order to realize whether this technique works and is effective, try to compare a page with testimonies with one without.
(14) Don't give him any possibility to choose
Everyone appreciates having a choice, but what would happen if you asked a user to choose between 2 or more options? Exactly! He would start wondering what is best for him instead of buying.
Users must only have one choice to take, to act or not.

(15) Often repeat what to do
Tell the user exactly what you want him to do and do it often. Repeat the message regularly perhaps using different methods.

(16) Look at them straight into the eyes
When you create contents (text, audio, multimedia etc.) remember to address the user being on first-name terms with him. This makes him feel protagonist and gives him the impression that you are considering him unique and important.
(17) The content is all you have, treat it well!
Make sure that:
• the text doesn't contain mistakes, the grammar is correct and it uses adequate words
• text blocks are not too long and the page is not too heavy
• any link works correctly
• buttons and links are well recognizable
• all messages are clear and comprehensible
• the page is compatible with all the browsers and operating systems
(18) Show problems and then solve them
Show the user the problems he could face if he doesn't buy the product and show him how the product could solve them.
(19) Minimise the user's risks
The lower the risks for the user the higher the sales. A way to reduce risks is to offer a warranty, what we call "satisfied or refunded within 30 days", to include a note on privacy, etc.
(20) Try, verify, modify and verify again!
Good, now the moment to verify that everything works has come:
• create at least two pages that differ for some details
• put the first one on-line and leave it there until it receives 500 unique visits for instance
• analyze and keep the results obtained
• substitute the first page with the second one and keep the latter on-line until it reaches the same number of unique visits the first page has.
• verify which of the two has given better results
• create a third page applying what you have learnt from the two previous experiences and carry on testing until you obtain the "perfect page" (the one that gives you the best results!)
I hope this could be useful!

Comments and/or critics are really welcome.


Best regards,
Luca

Last edited by lucact : 12-16-2004 at 05:27 AM. Reason: Typo
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Old 12-20-2004   #2
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I like the premise of what you are espousing here. I would love it if the perception of SEO was beyond search rankings and instead focused more on search marketing - using the search engines as communication medium and the website as a tool of commerce.

But there is still a problem of convincing clients to see the difference, and getting them to pay for the performance.

In my experience, too many sites out their are concerned with what their competitors are doing because they can see their competitors' rankings. But they dont even have a strong grasp on tracking their online marketing efforts so it makes it hard for them to justify online spending without visible results.
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Old 12-21-2004   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lucact
(2) The product is the only protagonist[indent]Don't waste a single pixel of your page talking about anything that isn't about the product you intend to promote. Every sentence, image, multimedia content that isn't of use to sing its praises is only a waste of time for you and your users.
The product must be the only protagonist of your page.
content-oriented sites -- or sites that derive their revenue primarily from advertising -- may have to compromise on this point. take thestreet.com, for instance. a news site about the stock market. the news is obviously the protagonist, but the advertising needs to be somewhat noticeable in light of the site's current business model.
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Old 12-21-2004   #4
Luca Catania
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poHi Kidmercury,

thanks for your comment!

You wrote:
Quote:
content-oriented sites -- or sites that derive their revenue primarily from advertising -- may have to compromise on this point.
Regarding your example (thestreet.com) I agree with you but in my post I was talking about a specific situation in witch a people/company, that is trying to sell a product or a service, have to optimize their conversion rate.

This was about Landing pages:
Quote:
that I consider as those pages where users get to after having clicked on a link from a search engine, a promotional e-mail that you have sent, an advertising campaign or from any other means you are using in order to promote a product or a service.



Please note that the guidelines represents only a my point of view
.


Cryptblade,
thanks also to you for the interesting observation you made!

I would to point out that I think ranking is a very important point in a web marketing strategy; the problem is that some people are loseing their trust in web as marketing tool; this happen because they invest money only in positioning, without thinking about content of their pages!

Best regards,
Luca

PS: I am really sorry for my enlgish so please feel free to correct me!

Last edited by lucact : 12-21-2004 at 07:53 PM. Reason: typo
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Old 12-21-2004   #5
cryptblade
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lucact
I would to point out that I think ranking is a very important point in a web marketing strategy; the problem is that some people are loseing their trust in web as marketing tool; this happen because they invest money only in positioning, without thinking about content of their pages!
I am not discounting ranking. Ranking is important - because the searcher perceives ranking to be important. The problem with SEO clients is that many of them, especially those who don't understand it, assume that if they rank highly, then they automatically get higher conversion/results.

Your detailed analysis/guideline of landing pages, I think, are good guidelines to follow. It isnt the end-all or be-all, but certainly a good guideline for people to follow. I think SEOs who dont think this way, or in-house SEOs thus far focused on just the SEO techniques, should read this to get a new perception of SEO-SEM.

Now, since you are in Italy - Sicilia - how different are searches in Europe vs. US?
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Old 12-23-2004   #6
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kidmercury is rightthe elements of a landing page do differ, and regardless of what you write or think, lucat, this is true. Even the ultimate final landing page is going to have distractions... you want to put logos and testimonials etc... while good... can detract from the single goal.
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Old 12-24-2004   #7
Luca Catania
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Ciao ragazzi [Hi Guys],

the point 2 (The product is the only protagonist) obviously depend on, as all the the others points, the business model that person/company want to follow or is following.

For instance:
Visit this site > PopUpMaster.com (this is an example of landing page)
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
The only action that you can perform is "Buy", and all the content is based on the protagonist: "Popup generator".

In this specific case the point 2, from my side, must be applied exactly as the author is doing.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I think this forum is a perfect place to compare our idea to person with different life experiences, know-how and culture so critics and comments are always really welcome!

I take this opportunity to wish you a Merry and Peaceful Christmas!

With my best regards,
Luca Catania
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Old 12-24-2004   #8
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I like this forum discussing a landing page - and a landing page has a lot of elements to it. All of them are important because this is really what SEM is about: marketing using and within the search engine medium.

I think what lucat has written is a good guideline for landing pages. Clearly, it does not apply to ALL sites and exceptions abound on all points, but it's better to have a basic guideline to build on. We have basic SEO guidelines to build on too.

As for content pages, if you're building a landing page and your main stuff is content, you have to customize the general guidelines here for that. It's just good reasoning. Your landing page is your POS - so whatever you need to keep visitors there and drive them to whatever action, orient your pages to that.
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